Kenyan Justice Minister claims he did not know of renditions to Uganda, calls it “a failure of institutions”

Another surprising statement from Mutula Kilonzo:

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s justice minister said the rendition of Kenyans to Uganda to face charges of involvement in bomb attacks in Kampala should not have occurred and that parts of the judicial system had failed.
Mutula Kilonzo comment’s to Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday supported the view of two high court judges who have criticised the transfer of several suspects to Uganda.

"It is a failure of institutions because it should not happen. The judge in many respects is dead right because if you believe a Kenyan citizen has committed an offence, put him through the process," Kilonzo said late on Wednesday.

Judge Mohamed Wasarme said on Tuesday the transfers flouted the rights of the Kenyan citizens.

On Thursday a high court judge labelled the arrest, detention and removal of one of the Kenyan suspects as illegal.

A total of 38 people, including Ugandans, Kenyans and Somalis, have been charged with terrorism over the twin bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital that ripped through crowds watching the World Cup final in July.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission, a civil society group, says 13 Kenyans were illegally transferred to Uganda.
. . . .
Reprieve, a UK-based legal rights group, said worrying new patterns of counter-terrorism were emerging in east Africa.
"If it’s true Kilonzo was unaware of the renditions, then what we’re talking about is a rogue police force … that operates outside all chains of command," said Clara Gutteridge, a deputy legal director at Reprieve.

Earlier in the week we have seen Kilonzo back down on last week’s statement that the ICC was no longer needed to prosecute Kenya’s Post Election Violence since Kenya had passed a new constitution that would reform the police and courts. Hmm. . .

Walmart in Africa

I am feeling heavily backlogged on all the things going on in East Africa right now, but I do think I need to say something quickly about the proposed venture of Walmart into the African market with the purchase of South African-based Massmart.

This represents a different kind of investment than what we have typically seen from American companies–and Walmart, for better or worse, is a middle American icon. No oil or minerals or alcohol, just making margins on distributing and selling imported (presumably primarily Chinese for now) consumer goods. Arkansas to Africa. And Africa as one more part of the developing global market, rather than the underdeveloped outlier.

Aly-Khan Satchu in Nairobi “senses a tipping point”:

You know Africa is popping over the Radar when Wal-mart elect to
conduct their biggest acquisition in 10 Years on that very Continent.
Last Year India Inc. closed its second biggest Acquisition ever via
the purchase by Bharti of the Zain Africa Assets, One senses a Tipping
Point has been past and what was an Investment Trickle risks turning
into a Deluge.

With respect to the Political Risk Indicators. The Broad Trend has
been one way and thats lower. There are a few Recalcitrants but the
c21st has arrived on Africa’s shores [predominantly through the
Arrival of the Mobile Phone – Which has now connected Africa to each
other and The World] and the Landscape a new and disjunctive one.

Puntland and Piracy

The VOA reports on risks from U.S. engagement in Puntland:

The United States says it is planning to boost ties with Somalia’s two autonomous regions – Somaliland and Puntland – in an effort to restore stability in the south and to curb the spread of Islamic extremism. Some analysts say the move, however, may end up increasing violence and instability in Puntland.

In late July, Puntland government forces began fighting with militants loyal to an Islamist factional leader based in the remote and mountainous Sanaag and western Bari regions of northern Somalia.

Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole said the assault was a counter-terrorism operation, targeting the terrorist leader of the Puntland cell of al-Qaida, Mohamed Siad Atom. The Puntland government has linked Atom to numerous kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations in the region since 2008.
. . . .

But the leaders of the Warsangeli, a sub-clan of the larger Somali Darod tribe, say the conflict in the north is not about entirely about terrorism. They say it also is about long-held political and economic grievances the Warsangeli have had against the Puntland government since the region declared autonomy in 1998.
. . .

The leadership of the Puntland government is dominated by members of the Majeerten sub-clan of the Darod, and there has long been a simmering power struggle between the two sub-clans for control of Puntland’s lucrative commercial hub, Bosasso.

In the meantime, Jeffrey Gettleman writes that “The Pirates Are Winning!” in the New York Review of Books”:

There’s very little hope, in the near future, of the transitional government in Mogadishu becoming strong enough to wipe out the pirates’ bases. The government is simply trying to stay alive. The hard-line Islamist insurgents who control much of Somalia have flirted with dismantling the piracy business, but the money is too good. One group, Hizbul Islam, recently moved into Xarardheere and now gets $40,000 from each ransom. The more powerful insurgent group al-Shabab made a deal with the pirates in which they will not interfere with the pirates’ business in exchange for 5 percent of the ransoms. This seems to be the beginning of the West’s worst Somali nightmare. The country’s two top exports—piracy and Islamist radicalism—are at last joining hands.

Yesterday, however, the BBC reported that a Puntland court in Bossaso had sentenced a pirate leader to death for murder of a ship captain following a raid by Puntland soldiers.

Somaliland and Puntland Announce Breakthrough on Security Cooperation; In the meantime, where is the U.S. driving in the region?

A major announcement from Somaliland today, as reported by IRIN:

HARGEISA, 28 September 2010 (IRIN) – Somaliland and Puntland, once-warring territories in northern Somalia, have unprecedentedly agreed in principle to work together to tackle common security threats.

Troops from both entities have clashed over disputed borderlands in the past. They also differ over the issue of sovereignty: Somaliland unilaterally declared independence in 1991, and Puntland, while asserting a degree of autonomy, recognizes Mogadishu as its own, and Somaliland’s, capital.

"You can’t choose your neighbours, whether it is a region or state; for this reason, from now on, we are going to work with the Puntland state of Somalia, in terms of security of the [Horn of Africa] region,” Somaliland’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Abdi Gabose, said on 26 September in the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.

"Of course this does not mean we unite with Puntland or the other conflicted areas. We will discuss the [security] issues later," he said.

“From now on, we [Somaliland] want to work together on security matters because it seems there are anti-peace groups who want to threaten our peace,” he said.

The rapprochement follows renewed clashes in July in Galgala, an area on the Puntland side of the border, between Puntland’s security forces and troops loyal to Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom, a leader of an insurgency accused of having links to Al-Shabab, the main Islamist group fighting Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Atom and Al-Shabab have both denied such links exist.

"Of course the [Somaliland] government has its worries when it comes to the Galgala war because if these groups win or fail, either way it is not good for Somaliland because if they win they may try to enlarge their presence deeper in Somaliland," said Gabose.

Hargeisa is faced with another security concern – an armed group claiming to be fighting to liberate – and which is named after – the Somaliland border regions Sool, Sanag and Cayn. The group rejects the legitimacy of Somaliland’s government and sovereignty and says it has set up its own administration.

Increased engagement

Puntland Information Minister Abdihakim Ahmed Guled said of Gabose’s statements: “We welcome the openness of the new government in Somaliland and its aim to solve the problems in peace and negotiations.

200912161259400734.jpg
Photo: Wikimedia Commons magnify.gif
Puntland and Somaliland have agreed to work together to tackle common security threats

“On our side, we are happy to hear that the Somaliland government is ready to work with us on security matters because at this time, there are new groups in the region who are killing Muslim people in mosques. These groups have in the past carried out suicide attacks in Hargeisa as well as in Puntland’s port of Bosasso."

Meanwhile, there have been international moves to increase engagement with both Somaliland and Puntland, most notably by the United States, which plans to send more diplomats and aid workers there.

“We think that both of these parts of Somalia have been zones of relative political and civil stability, and we think they will, in fact, be a bulwark against extremism and radicalism that might emerge from the south,” Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnny Carson said on 24 September.

The US has stressed, however, that this initiative does not mark the beginning of a process to recognize Somaliland’s independence.

Commenting on the US move, Sally Healy, an associate fellow of the Africa Programme at Chatham House, told IRIN: “Both territories are quite effectively administered by authorities that are hostile to Al-Shabab and the spread of extremism in Somalia. Their strategic position is important in terms of the security threats emanating from the Gulf of Aden.

“They have important and influential diaspora communities in the west. So it makes a lot of sense for the US to do business with them instead of putting all their eggs in the TFG basket, which remains extremely fragile.”

An op/ed piece from Puntland’s Garowe Online describes the new U.S. policy of "agressive engagement" with Somaliland and Puntland as a "U Turn" by the United States. The statement by Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson on Friday does indicate some real change in direction, but it remains a bit unclear what we are driving towards.

Some points: First, Carson’s comments on its face treats Somaliland and Puntland in parallel and equivalently. Second, Carson stated clearly that the U.S. was not moving toward recognition and seems to echo previous policy in that regard. Third, the new policy seems, then, to be entirely dependent on the "informal" status identified by Carson for initiatives to support the capacity of local authorities in "development" catagories. Fourth, changes in policy in regard to Southern Somalia are not yet clear. Fifth, this will continue to be run primarily out of Nairobi.

This is the long slow turn of sorts that I have seen transpire on Somaliland from my vantage point: When I started as Director for the East Africa office for the International Republican Institute in Nairobi in mid-2007, our status in regard to a Somaliland program was up in the air. We had previously operated a Somaliland program from Nairobi and had made a major monitoring effort for the 2005 parliamentary elections. Funding for the program had expired in 2006 and we had been given a "no cost extension" through the end of 2006. After that time, we were doing our best to maintain contacts and stay close to the situation, but had no money for travel, overhead or anything else. Regional officers in State’s Africa Bureau in Washington indicated that new funding from USAID should be forthcoming, but nothing happened until the very end of the fiscal year in September 2007. When we finally received a Request for Proposal for a funding agreement, the annual funding amount was suddenly more than tripled to $1M annually for three years and we were to open an office in Hargeisa which we had not expected. At that time, local and presidential elections in Somaliland were schedule for the spring of 2008, with the president’s term ending in April.

Nonetheless, at that time, State Department and USAID employees and direct contractors were barred from travel to Somaliland. In the spring of 2008 we had an evaluation visit from regional experts who were contracted by USAID and we were not able to secure permission for them to visit Hargeisa. During this time frame Jendayi Frazer made an initial visit to Hargeisa from an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa. This got a lot of attention in Somaliland and seems to have been a bit of a breakthrough in terms of educating American officials about the level of stability there (the degree of security was the subject of a certain amount of amusement by Somalilanders, although the bombing of the presidential office and Ethiopian facilities in late 2008 changed the environment somewhat).

At this point, Somaliland has come through a long and difficult process of voter registration, its first ever, and its second successful presidential election, with a peaceful transfer of power. IRI has been up and running in Hargeisa for two and a half years. The UNDP and a variety of NGOs have continued to work "on the ground". Foreign investment is increasing and awareness is growing of economic opportunities.

I certainly welcome the new realism reflected in Carson’s statement, and I do think that there will be opportunities for the U.S. to do more to help–and the government in Somaliland and the authorities in Puntland have welcomed it as well. At the same time, I wonder how far ahead we are looking and what we see in future years if we are discouraging hopes for eventual recognition for Somaliland (and do we mean to send that message?) There seems to be a broadly shared consensus that the policy of supporting the Ethiopian invasion in December 2006 displacing the UIC in Southern Somalia was short-sighted and has ultimately proven to be a fiasco leading to worse conditions now and worse options going forward. Is there some vision of a federated Somalia including Somaliland someday? If not, do we seriously think that the AU will someday move forward on recognition for Somaliland without U.S. leadership on the issue? Is there something more or different that Somaliland could do on its own to persuade us to move toward recognition in coming years?

Obama’s “US Global Development Policy”–what part of this is 60s “anti-colonial” radicalism?

Obama’s speech to UN Development Summit, announcing “US Global Development Policy” (from NBC; h/t Aid Watch)

So let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests. And let’s reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty. For the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than at any time in history. A disease that had ravaged the generations, smallpox, was eradicated. Health care has reached the far corners of the world, saving the lives of millions. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, developing nations have transformed into leaders in the global economy.

. . . .

As President, I have made it clear that the United States will do our part. My national security strategy recognizes development as not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative. Secretary of State Clinton is leading a review to strengthen and better coordinate our diplomacy and development efforts. We’ve reengaged with multilateral development institutions. And we’re rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world’s premier development agency. In short, we’re making sure that the United States will be a global leader in international development in the 21st century.
. . . .

We also recognize that the old ways will not suffice. That is why in Ghana last year I called for a new approach to development that unleashes transformational change and allows more people to take control of their own destiny. After all, no country wants to be dependent on another. No proud leader in this room wants to ask for aid. And no family wants to be beholden to the assistance of others.
To pursue this vision, my administration conducted a comprehensive review of America’s development programs. We listened to leaders in government, NGOs and civil society, the private sector and philanthropy, Congress and our many international partners.

Today, I am announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy-the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.

Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.

. . . .

First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop-moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal-from our diplomacy to our trade and investment policies.

Second, we’re changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.

Continue reading

U.S. AFRICOM Troops to Congo? To attack the LRA?

Wired has a piece on their Danger Room blog suggesting “why the US should send troops (and spooks)” to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to pursue the Lords Resistance Army, on the theory that what is missing is military capability and we are the ones that have it:

Africom is not designed to mount Afghanistan-size wars. It’s all about brief, targeted intervention, influence and the Pentagon’s new favorite word, “partnership.” “Admittedly, this is an indirect and long-term approach,” Maj. Gen. William Garrett, then-commander of Africom’s land troops, told me earlier this year. Recently, U.S. Special Forces helped form a new “model” Congolese army battalion. And earlier this month in Kinshasa, Congo’s sprawling capital, a hundred U.S. Army doctors and medics teamed up with 250 Congolese personnel for a couple weeks of training. “The U.S. has determined it wants to be more involved in Africa,” explained Army Lt. Col. Todd Johnston, the exercise commander.

So why not get involved where it can really help? That’s what advocates of U.S. action in Congo are asking. After all, this is a mineral-rich country that takes millions and millions in foreign donations, mostly from America. So find the LRA, and kill or capture the chiefs before they make an already desperate country even worse.

But do it the Africom way. No massive troop deployment. No occupation. No drawn-out conflict. No headline news in the U.S. Just a few spooks, a few commandos, some airplanes and choppers and the permission of Congolese president Joseph Kabila. By American military standards, it wouldn’t take much. But it would make life a lot safer for millions of people in Central Africa — and might help reduce the cost to the world of keeping Congo on life support. Plus, it could show the way forward for a smarter, less expensive American way of war.

There are just two problems. First, the U.S. military has tried taking out the LRA before, albeit indirectly — and failed. Last year, Ugandan and U.N. forces acting on U.S.-provided intelligence launched an offensive aimed at taking out LRA leadership. But the rebels escaped … and killed hundreds of civilians as they hacked their way deeper into the forest.

Second, despite a growing body of legislation meant to define America’s role in Congo’s conflicts, at the moment there’s no clear U.S. policy regarding Congo and no prospect of one emerging anytime soon. The U.S. military might be the best solution to Congo’s LRA problem, but it’s a solution lacking one key component: political will.

It’s a bit hard for me to understand how you can present an argument for sending US troops into the Congo, with the permission of President Joseph Kabila, to hunt down the LRA, without any serious discussion of the ramifications of this in relation to all of the other conflicts and issues in Eastern Congo involving foreign-supported militias, ethnic groups, etc. Or how you address the issues involving the fact that the LRA ranges across four different countries and originates in Uganda rather than the DRC. If you don’t cross borders, you fail and you have to stay indefinitely in the DRC to have any hope of keeping the LRA elsewhere–do you follow them into Sudan, for instance, based on permission from Joseph Kabila? Do we have US troops fighting in Uganda during the February elections?

Conceptually, I fully appreciate the impulse to act directly instead of just through training others to try to put a stop to the LRA–however, I just don’t buy this as a legitimate assessment. Part of the reason is that reading carefully, you see that what Axe is describing is not just  a lack of capability by the DRC, but also a lack of will. This makes the whole thing a bit disingenuous.

Robert Kaplan waxed poetic in the Atlantic back in 2007 at the inception of AFRICOM about the nature of the combatant command as a new “under one roof” State Department, USAID and military entity for “nation building”. Based on the GAO report issued in July on the status of AFRICOM (h/t Dr. Carl LeVan) any such ambitions are at an embryonic stage as AFRICOM has yet to formalize its own basic planning documents and at least at that time still had not really worked out how to handle the role of the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa in Djibouti, which is the actual on-continent U.S. base. Likewise, AFRICOM as of July had only 29 people at headquarters from State and USAID and did not use any methodology to actually measure or evaluate its various programs in civil affairs, rule of law, etc., etc., which might or might not complement other things done by others from the U.S. government.

Does this piece in Wired represent the “tip of the spear” in the search for an alternative role for AFRICOM–more “rapid strike force” and less “nation building”?

When someone floats an idea and says “plus, it could show the way forward for a smarter, less expensive American way of war”, start by being afraid for your children and your wallet. And suggest that they may want to experiment on this in Afghanistan and/or Iraq first.

True Colors–Kenyan Justice Minister calls on ICC to drop prosecution of Post-Election Violence

This strikes me as a classic “bait and switch” from the Kenyan political establishment to the international community.

Kenya’s Justice Minister says at this late date that because Kenya will be reforming its judicial and police systems under the newly passed Constitution, the ICC is no longer needed and should “keep off” as Kenya can now prosecute the post-election violence itself. I cannot imagine who would be expected to take this argument seriously. Certainly no one that has been paying any attention to Kenya for the past few years.

Presumably the real argument is that “because we have allowed Kenyans to pass this wonderful new Constitution–that you, international powers wanted more than we did–you owe us a pass on the post-election violence–just like you gave us a pass on the election fraud because we agreed to a “government of national unity”.

As with the election fraud, there is a real question here for the United States: how much do we want to know and when do we want to know it? The ICC is at best only going to try a tiny handful of suspects–most killers and their sponsors will not be directly touched. The ICC’s ability to gain convictions is not a foregone conclusion. Trials, however, would be public and would let the Kenyan public–and the international public–hear details of what happened. The United States has claimed to have quite a bit of information about the post-election violence. Presumably this is the case with the British and the other European players. To date, we have supported the ICC process lukewarmly as a substitute for the local tribunals that we preferred but the Kenyan leadership refused to approve. Where are we on this now?

From the Saturday Nation, “Mutula to Ocampo: Quit Kenya Probe”:

A Cabinet Minister has launched a controversial campaign to stop the International Criminal Court from investigating and prosecuting post-election violence suspects.

Lawyer Mutula Kilonzo, who holds the Justice portfolio, claims that trial sought by the ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo after he completes investigations in the next few weeks will be unnecessary when Kenya establishes a new judiciary, appoints an inspector-general of police, and installs a new director of public prosecution under the new Constitution.

The minister, whose docket is crucial to obtaining justice for the victims of the violence that broke out after the 2007 General Election, argued: “When these (appointments) are in place, we can say that Kenyan judges meet the best international standards. After that, I can even tell them not to admit the ICC case. Why on earth should a Kenyan go to The Hague?”

Development Challenges: Ugandan Elections and Hunger in NE Kenya

Uganda ElectionsHere is an interesting report regarding the various NGO efforts to the potential violence that is a growing concern in relation to Uganda’s upcoming February 2011 elections. Concerns expressed include questions about excessively expensive or wasteful projects, the need to distinguish between important and effective groups and those “which are just parasitic”, and the degree to which donors should dictate the use of funds and the extent to which this may influence the political process.

One project singled out for scrutiny is a soccer tournament “to reconcile the warring political parties” organized by the Global Peace Festival Foundation, an organization launched by Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, the prime minister, on August 30.

In total, the two football competitions will cost GPFF Shs 610 million–enough money for a strong opposition party to run a successful compaign. Moreover, experts say that the majority of NGO funds are spent on workshops, furnished offices, and workers’ remuneration, leaving very little for the real projects.

According to the NGO registration board, there are over 8500 civil society organizations in Uganda and of these over 1000 are aimed at preventing violence or promoting election integrity.

Northeastern Kenya–high levels of child malnutrition continue to exist in spite of better rains recently according the the World Food Program. The previous drought reduced herds, so pastoralists continue to lack meat, milk and blood. Likewise, general underdevelopment from lack of health care facitlities, lack of roads and transportation, and lack of education (mothers’ illiteracy contributes to lack of knowledge about proper nutrition for children). A report today on IRIN entitled “Instability Without Borders” explains that the spillover effects from instability and al-Shabaab control of bordering areas of Somalia has driven some aid organizations out and greatly driven up costs for others, reducing the ability for service delivery to address these problems. While the border is porous to the flow of small arms and raids, it appears from the report that Kenya’s police high police presence has helped prevent major escalations on the Kenyan side of the border, the threat from previous cross-border kidnappings and raids, along with the general insecurity and prevalence of arms has resulted in a daily 12-hour curfew and a standard requirement that all travel include armed escort and has led many organizations to park their own vehicles and only travel in hired transport.